Modelling

I find it impossible to think of the word ‘modelling’ without saying it in a Aveline from Bread accent (a reference which no doubt means nothing to international readers or anyone not alive in the 1980s!). But to fill you in on what I have been doing since my last post, I have indeed been doing two very different types of modelling.

The first has not been much fun if I’m honest, as it has involved lots of statistical modelling (and analysis and endless re-writes and feedback) as I am in the very final stages of my PhD now and so it has become a bit all consuming. All being well, I should be submitting at the end of June and then it’s a case of preparing for the viva and then once the viva is done, working through the corrections. It’s been a looooooong process and I will admit I am flagging a bit at the moment but got to keep reminding myself that the end is in sight.

The second type of modelling though, was LOADS more fun! And very creatively inspiring and thought-provoking too. I may have mentioned that my favourite thing to knit is hats and fellow knitters may also be aware of an amazing hat patter designer called Woolly Wormhead, who designs the most incredible hats. One day a few months ago I was procrastinating on Twitter and saw that she was looking for models for her new hat collection…a few emails later and away we went! It’s not something I would normally do but I have been consciously trying to make myself do new things this year (there is a long blog post about this brewing in my head but that’s for another time!).

Anyway, the collection is called Painted Woolly Toppers and all of the hats are designed for hand-painted yarns so perfect for using up that one beautiful skein you couldn’t resist but never could think what to do with. For a colour lover like me, I was in heaven! I still can’t decide which my favourite is but there is definitely something for everyone in the collection. If you have a look at my Instagram (@cherylandersonwrites or you should be able to see my feed over in the sidebar there), you can see some of the gorgeous hats or if you have a look here you can see all of the hats and order the e-book on pre-release. Early purchasers of the eBook will receive the single patterns as weekly instalments, and the final collection will be delivered by the end of May 2015. As each pattern is made available, you will receive a fresh download link for immediate access. If you prefer hard copies, they should be available from the end of May.

By the way, I’m not on commission for this or anything, I just really love her designs! I really can’t wait till the PhD is finished, or at least submitted, so I can go through my little collection of ‘special yarns’ and knit up some of the hats for myself!

I have got one other big piece of news but you’ll have to wait till the next post for that…x

The elephant in the room…

Hello and happy March everyone!

You may have noticed that I’ve been away from the blog for a little while and just wanted to write a little post to explain.  This blog is very much about wellness. About choosing joy, finding the ease, seeing the art and beauty in everyday life. But the elephant in the room is that I have some annoying long-term health conditions that can make doing all those things a bit tricky sometimes and combined with trying to finish a PhD means that I just have not had the energy  to write here over the last few weeks.

But this is not a moan, I promise! Part of the reason for starting this blog was to embrace healthiness and happiness despite whatever else is going on (although this is easier said than done when you get three migraines in 10 days…grrr!!!) and I really do love writing here but I just wanted to explain why I might disappear sometimes and why I can be a bit slow at replying to your lovely comments!

I have actually sat down and planned out my next few posts, one of which includes some makes in case you were wondering if I would ever get round to the making part of the blog 🙂

Speaking of elephants though, here’s a cushion I made for my friend’s baby last year which I was pretty pleased with:

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And I spotted this in the sky the other day…can anyone else see the elephant?!

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Hope you all have a lovely day and thank you all for reading, it means a lot to me!x

Buy Nothing New update: Month 1

So I’ve made it through the first month of my Buy Nothing New challenge and the good news is that I’ve succeeded! In fact, not only did I not buy anything new but I actually didn’t buy anything at all other than food and one item of toiletries that I actually needed! Before I make myself sound like an absolute saint, I should point out that this task is made much easier when your days are entirely filled with trying to write thousands of words for an upcoming deadline and you are also feeling a bit poorly 🙂

I had completely run out of hair conditioner and so bought some from my favourite brand Faith in Nature. They sell lovely green toiletries and cleaning products which I am a big fan of and most importantly, they smell amazing! I’m currently using their Rosemary shampoo and decided to try the Grapefruit and Orange conditioner so that I could imagine myself in much warmer climes than we currently find ourselves in. They’re a fairly local company as well which is always nice to feel like you’re supporting local businesses. By the way, this is not a sponsored post, I just really like them!

I also needed some gifts so I have been doing some making…at last, I hear you cry!

My sister got married a few weeks’ ago to my lovely new brother in law who is a keen cyclist and so I made them this card:

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This is not my original design, it’s inspired by this card I found on Etsy here and obviously were I not doing the challenge, I would have bought it from the designer as I very much believe in supporting designers and craftspeople.

A little friend of mine celebrated  his fourth birthday recently and I decided that a knitted monster hat was in order:

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I managed to make this from materials that I already had, which doesn’t sound like a big deal but I realised in the past I have often decided what to make first and then bought what I needed, rather than seeing what I already had and finding something I wanted to make from there.

And finally, I have been working away whenever I have a few spare minutes on knitting tiny hats for premature babies. I have one on the go all the time in the drawer in my desk and find it really helpful to just knit a couple of rows when I am trying to think how to phrase something or undo the knots in a tricky theoretical argument. I think my plan on trying to make one a day for the year is wildly over-ambitious and so I am just going to see how many I can make. Here’s a little pile of them for you to see:

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I think the plan is to bundle them up every three months and send them to Knit for Peace so that they can distribute them where they are needed most.

Have you been making anything recently?x

Weekend reading

Just a few links to good things I have read this week. Have a lovely weekend!

I am so excited about the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester re-opening this weekend and particularly about the Cornelia Parker exhibition. Although I won’t be able to visit straight away as I will be off celebrating my lovely sister’s wedding, I will be there as soon as I can! Here’s an interesting interview with her here (Cornelia Parker that is, not my sister!)

It’s nearly the start of the year of the sheep! I have always had a real fondness for sheep, not least for all the beautiful yarn they produce (see also alpacas) and here are some lovely pictures of rare breed sheep in the Lake District, one of my very favourite places in the world .

And finally, how a short walk can boost creativity and engagement with your work here. I’m sure it’s something we all know intuitively but good to be reminded to actually do it!

Litter litter everywhere!

Oh dear, I have discovered that once you start thinking about litter, you start to spot it everywhere. I walked up to our local post office this morning and was a bit horrified at the amount of rubbish on the streets. I don’t think it is usually this bad (or perhaps I just didn’t process it properly before) and suspect that a lot of it is left over from the bad storm we had a few weeks ago which flung a lot of bins around. But in a way, it doesn’t matter where it’s come from as clearly no-one is picking it up or taking responsibility for it.

I had a look on Keep Britain Tidy’s website when I got back and it looks like there are a few opportunities to try and organise some sort of community litter pick up. They have an initiative called The Big Tidy Up, although they do point out that as the park is council-owned I would have to get permission from them first before I could organise anything. The other possibility is that the Communities minister has announced a Clear up your Community day on the first day of spring (21st March) but as yet there doesn’t seem to be any info on what help might be available to take part in this or if permission would still be needed. Had anyone else heard of this? Hmmm, certainly lots to think about there, not least that I although this is all very interesting and important, it is not going to get my thesis written so I have to be a little bit careful about not getting too distracted!

I did another little solo pick up today (well, not really solo, more woman and mad spaniel pick up) and just focusing again on plastic, I brought home 9 plastic bottles, 22 plastic bottle tops, another bit of broken ball flinger, part of a plastic nerf-gun type toy, a plastic fork and actually a couple of cans and some cardboard as they were just by the exit of the park and once I’d seen them, I couldn’t ignore them. I’m already foreseeing a little problem with my efforts…our recycling bins are getting quite full and as collections are every 3 weeks, I may just have to stop when they get full. But I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

I did feel like I was being rewarded for my efforts today though! Not only did I see a pair of blue-tits chasing each other through the trees ( I have a real affection for blue-tits but very rarely seem to see them), we also saw the Heaton Park Heron take flight. He is such a stunning creature and I had never actually seen him fly before. I didn’t manage to get photos of any of them as it’s quite difficult to hold a dog lead, a bag full of plastic bottles and a camera! I also managed to make a good bit of progress with my writing today for the first time in days. I don’t know if it’s related to the de-cluttering and litter clearing but I am very grateful for it!

I realised that I completely forgot to post to say that I had started my conscious consumption challenge on Sunday. I have to say in terms of buying anything, new or otherwise, there’s nothing to report, which is great in terms of the challenge but not so great in terms of interesting blog posts! I have been doing a bit of making and some mending though, which I will share tomorrow.

If anyone has any experience of organizing or taking part in a local litter pick up of any kind, I’d be really delighted to hear from you in the comments below. Thank you!

A walk in the park

I was feeling really grateful this morning when I went for a walk in the park with the dog. After a gloomy January, the sky was bright and clear and although it’s still bitterly cold, the winter sunshine felt like it was doing me lots of good. I am slowly getting back to walking after my annoying ankle injury and it felt lovely to out and about again. I am particularly lucky that not only do I get to share my walks with this lovely girl…

Pepper the Spaniel!

…but I also get to walk nearly every day in Heaton Park, a gorgeous and huge park just north of Manchester City Centre.

It was only a matter of time before I had a rant on here and today my friends, is that day. As I was walking, all I could see in this beautiful natural setting was litter. It’s something that has bothered me from time to time before but something clicked in my head today that I needed to do something about it. I’ve been re-reading Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project (which, if you’ve never read by the way, I highly recommend!) and there’s a lovely bit in it where she talks about being on the subway and getting irritated by a plastic bottle rattling round on the floor, thinking “Someone should pick that up” before swiftly coming to the conclusion that that person could easily be her.

And so, in the past, I think I have always grumbled about the litter in my head, thinking how annoying it was that people dropped it in the first place and also how someone (i.e. the local council who I pay my council tax to) should really be picking it up. But yesterday, I read a blog post here from the Zero Waste Family about doing a solo litter pick up and reminded myself of that beautiful Gandhi quote:

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…and realised that it was time to stop thinking and start doing. Ironically, the PhD I’m working towards is in Social Change and I think part of the reason I have struggled with it sometimes over the last few years is that I always want to see practical changes…and to save the world obviously! So it’s just a very small gesture, but when I went back this afternoon for walk number 2, I took a couple of bags with me and decided to do a little experiment to see what I could pick up in half an hour. I thought I would focus just on plastic bottles as I can recycle them at home and hard plastics as I’ve just found out they can be accepted at the local tip and I’m planning a trip there very soon. I just walked on my normal route and didn’t go looking for plastic but just picked up what I saw.

I should have taken a picture really but I will give you a list instead: 17 plastic bottles, 5 plastic forks, 2 plastic spoons, 24 plastic bottle tops and 2 bits of broken and abandoned dog ball flingers. Oof. I spotted lots of other types of litter (including a faintly alarming amount of empty glass booze bottles!), there’s clearly not enough bins in the park and I couldn’t find a single recycling bin. It would be very easy to slip into despondency about it all and it might seem like a very small gesture on my part but I am going to keep chipping away at it and hopefully it will make some sort of difference. Great oaks grow from little acorns and all that!

Perhaps it could be a sort of Lent challenge, trying to clear a bag of rubbish from the park every day for 40 days? Hmm, I will have to think a bit more about this…but maybe #losethelitterforlent ? Have you ever done any sort of litter pick up? As always, would love to hear any stories!

Some thoughts before my Buy Nothing New 2015 challenge starts

I’ve been having a think about the things that might be the most challenging to avoid during my Buy nothing new/nothing at all challenge and some obvious ones jump out at me straight away…

1) Books! I LOVE books. Fiction, cookbooks, books about health and wellbeing, history books, art books, craft books, biographies…I am a huge consumer of books. I buy them new. I buy them second hand. I borrow them from the library. I also have a kindle. Whilst it probably won’t be too much of a challenge to stop buying new, given that I already get a lot from charity shops and the library already, I feel a little twinge of guilt about not supporting the book industry. Especially smaller producers like Persephone Books (Have you come across Persephone Books before? I absolutely adore them, in fact I might write a separate post on them)

2) Wool and craft things. I really love knitting and treating myself to a new skein of colourful wool can often cheer me up like nothing else. But, I already have a sizeable stash that needs to be worked through so I think I need to ensure that I don’t buy any more wool, knitting patterns or books this year, even if they’re second hand as I just don’t need them. This one makes me feel a bit conflicted as well as lots of the yarn and patterns that I buy are from small producers who work very hard for very little money and I don’t want to deprive them of the income they deserve.

3) Scented candles. Now this one might make you laugh, we get through a lot of scented candles in our house. Mainly because I really like them and I think in my little hippy/feng shui way that they help to balance the energy in rooms but mainly, and this is entirely non-hippy, my beloved dog Pepper like many doggies has a tendency to have be a stinky fart-bottom and scented candles are the only thing that really clear the air! I don’t normally buy anything terribly expensive as my budget doesn’t stretch that far (although if anyone from Neom OrganicsLiz Earle or similar wants to send me some candles to try out I’d be delighted to write a review of them!) but I do buy them regularly and I haven’t worked out yet how it would be possible to acquire second-hand candles. Hmmm, perhaps it just needs to be something that I always keep an eye out for in charity shops or look into how difficult it might be to make my own.

4) Time. This is a biggie. I know everyone is super busy most of the time but I have some particular challenges this year. I’m in the last few months of finishing writing up a PhD, which is pretty all-consuming so for the next six months or so I am genuinely not going to have much spare time at all, so learning new skills such as sewing are going to have to be postponed till after it’s done.

They’re the four main ones I can think of at the moment, I’m sure there be lots of others along the way!